"How do I become a paid speaker?" It's a question we've been asked a thousand times by athletes. It's right at the top of our FAQ list and for good reason.
The reality is, most athletes in Australia (Olympic, Paralympic and women in professional sport, specifically) aren't earning big money from their sport. Athletes have to work full or part time jobs just to stay afloat.
That's why athletes need to be savvy about finding ways to fund their sporting dream.
Public speaking can be one of the most time efficient and profitable ways for athletes to earn extra income. This is good news for busy athletes AND it's not dependent on medal wins or fame.
It's no secret that athletes have great stories. Some have even spent the time honing their speaker skills and building their speaker resume by speaking for free.
The challenge athletes face is making the transition to becoming a paid speaker. If you're an athlete, this next step can feel almost impossible. Where do you even start?
We're glad you asked. Let's break it down.
Create your speaker assets
If you want to become a paid speaker, your story is definitely your greatest asset. It's yours and yours alone. So it's important you spend time crafting it. You need to think about what will resonate with people, create connection with them and allow you to share the unique aspects of your story.
Crafting a presentation
Once you've unpacked your story you need to structure it. The structure will be a little different depending on the type of presentation. E.g. if you plan on doing motivational talks, work your story into that framework or if you have dreams of being a keynote speaker, work to that structure. You can then tweak and tailor this for a particular audience and weave in themes and topics such as resilience, overcoming adversity or mindset.
Most athletes know that if you want to be a paid speaker you need a talk and material to work with. But have you ever though about how you can promote and market yourself to help you engage paid work?
Start gathering photos, videos, testimonials and create a speaker one sheet and website. These are the core marketing materials you will need as a speaker. So ask someone to take photos and videos of you (perhaps bring a friend along or ask someone at the event). And after the event, make sure you grab a testimonial from the organisers.
HOT TIP – Don’t be scared to start out doing talks for free. It’s how almost everyone starts and it's the best way to get experience, build your confidence and gather evidence of you being a great speaker (photos, testimonials).
The Athlete Speaker Playbook: How to Become a Paid Speaker
Join us for a full-day speaker masterclass Saturday Nov 18 on the Gold Coast! We'll teach you how to craft a powerful presentation and give you a proven strategy to engage paid work.
How to approach paid speaking work
Lean into Your Network
Every athlete has a pretty good network. Don't be afraid to tap into it! You'll start off by doing free talks (e.g. at schools, for small businesses) or you're going to charge to speak and in return deliver a really top-notch presentation.
Asking friends and family to introduce you to businesses and events (or even engaging you themselves) is a great place to start. Got a family friend that works in events? Have a chat with them and see how they can help. Is your best friend well connected to businesses through her job? See who they can connect you to.
Over time, you'll build your own network of business and event contacts that you have a personal relationship with. However, this is a great place to start.
Target businesses and events
Identify businesses in your local area and introduce yourself to them. Share your speaker reel or speaker one sheet and let them know you’d love to deliver a presentation for them!
Find out what events are coming up and get in touch early to offer your professional speaking services! This can feel like a bit of a grind, but it’s going to really benefit you in the long (and sometimes short) run as you’re not just leaving things to chance. Too many athletes wait for businesses to approach them. But the hard truth is, you can be waiting an awfully long time for that to happen. So take matters into your own hands by making yourself known and available.
Register with bureaus
There are agencies that exist to create a connection between speakers and the businesses/events that want to book them!
They are a connection point and a great way to engage opportunities. However, one thing to note is that many will only take on speakers who have delivered a certain number of paid talks. So it isn’t always the best starting point for many athletes.
Good news is, there are a few that will allow you to register even if you have little experience. People will be able to book you on the platform and you may find opportunities are sent your way through the platform from time to time.
How to attract paid work
Build brand awareness
It has never been easier for athletes to tell the world about their speaker skills! You can use social media and other communication channels to raise awareness about your speaker services.
Update your LinkedIn profile and share photos, testimonials and videos of your speaker journey. You can also write articles that touch on the themes or topics you talk about in your story. Do the same across your other social media channels and your website. Don't be afraid to show the world you're a speaker and available for bookings!
You don't need to do a hard sell. Simply show that you are a speaker and available
Grow your network
Purposefully and actively grow your network. Get clear on who your ideal client is.
Consider who has typically booked you and what is their role? Is there an industry that your presentations really resonate with? Who do you LOVE speaking in front of because you know you create impact in the room?
Then get out there (and online) and actively start pursuing connections with people who you’d love to book you as a speaker. Go to business events, conferences, expos, join groups on LinkedIn and send invitations to people.
A word to the wise: focus on building the relationships first and don’t jump straight into sales mode! (It's kinda like proposing on the first date.) Focus on making a genuine connection, get to know them and then find opportunities to work together.
Deliver exceptional value
Your value as a speaker starts before you step foot on the stage and continues after the standing ovation.
It's how well you communicate with your clients, turning up on time and being prepared. It’s the overall experience you give them that will make them want to tell everyone how truly great you were to work with!
Now it's time to take your next steps
So there you have it. Some practical steps and actions you can take right now to take the next step on your speaker journey. Are you ready?
It's our hope that more and more athletes can take action in this space and benefit financially from sharing their story.
Because every athlete has a story and value to share. Why not make the most of the opportunities at your doorstep by getting paid to share it?
Meet The Brand Builders
We teach athletes how to build their brand and connect with the opportunities that are uniquely right for them. We're passionate about helping athletes elevate their journey in and beyond sport.
If you'd love to take your speaker journey to the next level and learn how to get paid for sharing your story, join us Saturday November 18 on the Gold Coast for an all-day speaking masterclass.